According to a survey conducted by Care Net, 70 percent of women who reported having an abortion identified as “Christian” and 43 percent of women who had an abortion in 2021 regularly attended church.
More than likely, when you attend church on the Lord’s Day, sitting near you are people that have chosen to abort a baby at some point in their life. Women sitting in the sanctuary are struggling over this decision. Perhaps you’re reading this article right now and this statistic is personal; it’s talking about you. Maybe you’ve had an abortion in your past or are currently dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and you don’t know what to do.
Unfortunately, that same Care Net survey also found that only 7 percent of churchgoing women who had an abortion discussed their abortion with their pastor or parishioners. Reasons given for this silence included:
- 65 percent of the women believed church members judged single women who are pregnant.
- 59 percent of the women believed their church wasn’t prepared to help them in decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
More women last year reported experiencing feelings of condemnation rather than a sense of care from their local church.
It’s time to take a realistic look at tangible ministry opportunities to physically, spiritually, and financially help women who are experiencing unwanted pregnancies—for whatever reason. I’d like to suggest we begin with two action points.
Create a culture of compassion.
This culture of compassion extends to those who have had an abortion in their past and those who are considering abortion due to an unwanted pregnancy in the present.
Many women who have had an abortion, and men who have encouraged an abortion, fear being open about their past, even in their accountability groups and close circles. Have you ever thought about the fact that a church is a congregation where everyone has a past? We are all sinners, we are all equally incapable of justifying ourselves through righteousness, and we are all equally dependent on Jesus Christ for our salvation. The church should be a gathering place for humble and honest transparency, which leads to godly encouragement and counsel.
And remember too that we follow the example of God, who does not hold our sins against us, but removes our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Compassion, acceptance, and love should be the attitude of our heart toward another believer with an abortion in their past, as we seek to reflect God’s attitude toward us.
Compassion must also be the posture of the church toward women who face unwanted pregnancy. Rather than shame a woman for even considering an abortion, or gossiping about a single woman’s pregnancy, seek to better understand her circumstance for the purpose of providing help. What financial, social, or emotional reasons have caused this pregnancy to be unwanted? Is abuse, or sexual assault, a factor in this decision? By asking these questions, we can better learn how to help in tangible ways.
As a church, we can’t rightly care for a person until we know them. My prayer is that any woman who came to our churches for help due to a pregnancy would say of us what the apostle James encouraged the church: to let “mercy trump over judgment” (James 2:13).
Be willing to provide financial, emotional, or adoptive care.
I appreciate the challenge by former Vice President Mike Pence, who told a South Carolina church earlier this year that “if you’re going to be pro-life, you need to be pro-adoption.” This a profoundly simple, yet biblical perspective. Isaiah wrote: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17). This command to seek justice and to care for those in need is echoed through the entire Bible, and this command is for us.
One of the American church’s greatest witnesses is the fact that the adoption rate among Christian families is twice as high as the rate among the total population. Five percent of practicing Christians in the United States have adopted, including many families at the church I pastor.
The youth group at my church reflects a multi-ethnic, adoption-oriented church family, as we have been able to minister to Christians who have opened their families to children in need.
I pray that the church’s reputation when it comes to the unborn will cause women to look to their local church—not their local Planned Pregnancy Center—as the only source for resources, help and encouragement. To improve our testimony in the community, we need churches committed to providing these tangible resources to woman to help them decide they not only should keep their baby, but they can!
The truth is, many women seeking abortions want to be mothers, but can’t see past the financial burden that will arrive on their due date. Does your congregation have a fund to help them?
Many women worry about finding childcare, emotional support, and community as a prospective mother. Who in your church will step up to meet those needs? Perhaps that’s the ministry God is leading you to begin today in your local church.
Finally, let’s offer adoption as an alternative to abortion. Adoption can be a significant financial undertaking, so perhaps the church can partner financially with families to help meet those costs. And let’s not forget to make adopted children feel loved and welcomed in our children’s ministries and youth groups.
It’s time to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ on this issue. Let’s make our churches a place of refuge, not rejection, for all who are in need.